Poetry Feature/Collaborative Project: Gmeiner Art and Cultural Center, re:covery spoken word album by brotherwell

Life has been pretty busy and I’m not complaining. I moved my boyfriend in the house and my child moved out into their first independent venture. Add work at the hospital and fixing up the house and it created a recipe for falling behind on blogs. I have good intentions of keeping up, but living in the present sometimes gets the best of me. Over the next few weeks, I will be catching up on the adventures in writing, reading, and hiking. Stay tuned for lots of great news and fun.

In May, I was invited to be a feature reader at the Gmeiner Art and Cultural Center in Wellsboro, PA. I had never been to this town and drove the 45 minutes to get there to be wowed by the beauty and charm of this small town. It is home to the Pennsylvania Grand Canyon and a community that enjoys the arts. The Gmeiner is a small building with nearly every wall surface filled with local art. When I went there, they had two retrospectives of women who had been painting for decades in various styles and mediums. Carrie Heath, the director, was kind enough to show me around and tell me the stories about the women who did the paintings. There was also a scratch art collection on display that was so incredible you would have thought they were photographs. Many of these women featured were self-taught artists which gives me hope for myself.

This feature was an hour long and beforehand I struggled to know how I was going to fill all of that time, but Carrie was such a great host that it lent itself to telling stories about writing and poetry as well as reading poems. The attendance was intimate, but it felt really good to be reading in public again. There were a few familiar places and people asked very deep and earnest questions about my writing. Some of the poems were a bit heavy and tears were shed, even by me. I suppose I am just not ready to read poems about my dad yet. I keep trying, but I don’t always make it through them. I sold five books and this felt like a win to me. During the reading, I had shared a few ekphrastic poems. I have been writing them for years for my own enjoyment and this landed me another project next year in which I will be collaborating with an artist.

If you are in Wellsboro, you should definitely stop down to the Gmeiner and see Carrie. She is doing great things by giving local artists a space to show their hard work, but to also be seen. This is important for everyone, but especially those of us in rural areas who might not have the type of access an artist would in a city. Support your local museums, buy art, share your thoughts and keep inspiring people to create. Gmeiner Art and Cultural Center, 134 Main St., Wellsboro, PA.

May was an exciting month. Earlier in the year I was asked to collaborate on a spoken word project spearheaded by brotherwell and front man Ryan Bozeman. Thirteen poets recorded their work and sent these to Bozeman who created wonderfully layered musical numbers while also adding his own lyrics to the song. Each of the poems was about recovering in some way–from injustice, heartbreak, substances, trauma etc. It is an album that sheds light on the daily struggles we all have in life and how being there for each other can really make the difference. This album is available for download on a series of platforms (iTunes, Bandcamp, Amazon Music, Spotify) and all proceeds are going to Tiny Changes which is a charity that works with troubled young minds to help and to heal. It was created after the death of a man’s brother. This album is an expression of heart and mind. It is an adventure of collaboration and insight. Please consider purchasing it and donating to Tiny Changes. My poem/song “The Moment Before the World Wakes Up” is featured in the collection. Thanks for supporting artists and writers and keeping folks afloat. We live in some pretty tough times and we have to make reaching out for help part of normal daily life rather than an exception.

If you are in crisis, reach out the the National Suicide Hotline at 1-800-273-8255

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